When you change screen time rules, you should expect a few things from your kids:
- Testing the boundaries–Basically, they are asking, “Do you really mean this?” They want to know if you’re going to enforce the new rules. This could be pushing the new limits to see what happens, sneaking extra screen time, pretending they “forgot”, ignoring your limits.
- Pushing back with their behavior–They are letting you know change is scary and they are not happy. This could be tantrums, “I hate you” or other statements that sting, slamming doors, any kind of acting out…
These are normal. In fact, you should expect your child not to embrace new screen time limits at first. This wasn’t their idea. They were happy with the way it was.
Kids WANT limits and boundaries around screen time. They need your help to get off screens and figure out what ELSE they can do.
How can you approach changing screen time rules?
- Know that parenting is long-term and the decisions you make are based on your values. You are committed to applying your values to your choices.
- Know that you are the leader and therefore, not always popular. And that’s okay.
- Trust that your child will adapt over time IF you are consistent.
- Reach out to a parenting community that understands the struggles of parenting with limits and boundaries and ask for support. If you don’t have that yet, join my free private parenting group.
- Frame the conversations with “I statements”. For example, “I’ve noticed you grab your phone when you first wake up. When I do that, I’ve noticed I get more agitated and my day gets off track. How does it feel to you? What if we both waited until 30 minutes after we wake up?”
- What you’re doing here is focusing on your own experience, offering to change WITH your child and gently noticing that life could be better without the screen time anxiety first thing in the morning. What you are NOT doing is pointing your finger at their bad behavior, shaming them into change or accusing them of bad things.
To help you start that list of what else they could do, we’ve created a handout of 100+ Fun Offline Activities for Kids. Read over 5 or 10 ideas with your kids, ask for their ideas and write them down, then hang this on the fridge. This is now a boredom buster tool. When kids say they are bored or start to grab screens when they aren’t supposed to, point to this list and ask them to choose something to do.